A coalition of immigrants' rights groups has announced plans to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government on behalf of U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants. Advocates told supporters at a Miami rally that the children of illegal immigrants live in constant fear of having their parents deported.
About 150 immigrants and their supporters, waving American flags, turned out for a peaceful rally in a Latino neighborhood of Miami. The leader of a group called American Fraternity, Alfonso Oviedo, announced plans to file a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. government.
Children of illegal immigrants born on U.S. soil automatically receive American citizenship, but their parents are still subject to deportation. Oviedo pointed to the fate of three young girls brought up on stage at the rally.
"Our position is that now it would be a violation of the children's civil rights to remove their parents from them," said Alfonso Oviedo. "You just saw a circumstance out there in the demonstration where three young girls, about 11, 10 and nine, had their mother removed last month. And they were unable to talk when they were called to the podium. They got there, but then they only cried."
The girls' mother was deported to Honduras. The coalition is representing 10 children so far, and is inviting other families to join the lawsuit.
Under U.S. immigration law, the American citizen-children of illegals are not deported. A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Michael Keegan, said people who come to the United States illegally and start families are building houses in the sand. Keegan said they should be aware of the consequences.
"The consequences are, despite the fact they have a US citizen or not, they don't have legal status in this country, and they cannot adjust their status just because they have a U.S. citizen child," said Michael Keegan. "They are susceptible to arrest and deportation from the country regardless of that child."
Oviedo said he believes what is needed is comprehensive immigration reform to give legal status to the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States.
This week, the Senate is debating legislation on border security and immigration reform, but chances for the passage of a comprehensive reform this year are considered slim.